There's been a twist in the saga of whether Matthew Whitaker, the acting attorney general, was told by ethics officials to recuse himself from overseeing Special Counsel Robert Mueller's inquiry into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.
Early Thursday, a senior Department of Justice official told The Washington Post Whitaker was told there's no need for him to step aside, but this person came forward later in the day to say that's actually not how it went down. Several other people familiar with the matter told the Post that a senior Justice Department ethics official did come to the conclusion that Whitaker should recuse himself, but his advisers told him he shouldn't, and he is following their advice.
Before becoming acting attorney general, Whitaker made several public statements critical of the probe. A Justice Department official told the Post Whitaker put together a team of advisers last month to explore whether he should recuse himself because of those comments and due to a friendship with Sam Clovis, a witness in the inquiry. Whitaker met several times with senior ethics officials, and on Tuesday, one told the group of advisers Whitaker should recuse himself in order to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest. They didn't agree with this official, and told Whitaker on Wednesday he had no reason to recuse himself. Read more about the twists and turns at The Washington Post.